Stop withholding information down the business chain

Poor Communication At Work

Got that chart from here. It’s an article written by Lou Solomon, who is the CEO of Interact, and is on the ol’ Twitter machine here. Here’s another thing I got from the article (overall it makes a lot of great points, but this is one of the greatest):

  1. Here’s what’s happening and what you can expect… Companies operate in a constant state of change and all too often, information is withheld from team members until the last minute. This is a huge distraction for employees, who need “real speak” about their futures to be present in their work. Leaders often underestimate employees’ ability to accept “why” if it is shared in an honest way. Leaders will gain deep respect when they share as much as they know as soon as they can share it. Real explanations are always better than no explanations.

This could not possibly be more true if it tried, and it’s one of the things I’ve been most frustrated about at virtually every job I’ve ever had. I realize communication is a soft skill — in so many words, it’s not tied to revenue — and as such, people don’t prioritize it (and a lot of people come from families where it’s not prioritized, so they have two reasons to not really understand its relevance). I get that, and companies can have horrible leaders in terms of communicating and still make a ton of money. It all makes sense.

But this is part of the whole deal that most managers/senior executives don’t get: as a senior leader, you might be closest to the partnerships and alliances that make up your company (so you can chase the perks, baby!), but your rank-and-file employees tend to be closest to the customer: doing help desk stuff, working on the website, fielding calls, doing sales, whatever it may be. Ultimately, everything you do affects the end customer of your products — so it’s helpful to keep the people closest to those customers (i.e. your employees) in the loop.

Plus, when everything is only known by senior leaders, it creates a huge in-group/out-group mentality that permeates down and creates bad feelings among the rank-and-file. I realize the senior execs at most places are fine with that attitude (in-group/out-group), but it’s not good for business in the long-run. You lose good people that way.

Right now, there’s a big focus in business on “customer-first” (by “right now,” I mean “for the last 35 years”) and that makes a ton of functional sense. Problem? “Customer-first” ends up being terrible for employees of the same company, because it shifts priorities to external instead of internal.

Remember: if you want people to like working for you and with you, the simplest way to begin that process is to stop treating them like deliverables-only farm animals.



Ted Bauer

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